Fresh HEU returned to Russia

1 October 2003

Fourteen kilograms of fresh Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) were returned from Romania to Russia under the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) Initiative.

The highly enriched nuclear fuel assemblies were originally supplied to Romania by the former Soviet Union for the Russian-designed 2MWe research reactor at Magurele, in Bucharest. After the reactor ceased operations in December 1997, the fuel was moved to the Institute for Nuclear Research, Pitesti, for storage.

The fresh nuclear fuel was loaded in eight fresh fuel transportation canisters provided by Russia, and monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and US Department of Energy experts. The fuel was airlifted from Romania to the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates plant, which had originally supplied the fuel.

The $400,000 fuel removal is being funded by the DoE under a cooperative US-Russian-IAEA programme, which facilitates the return of both fresh and spent fuel from Russian designed research reactors abroad.

• Another key aspect of the IAEA's non-proliferation work in Romania, is assistance to convert the research reactor at Pitesti from burning HEU to low enriched uranium. The reactor is a US-designed 14MWe TRIGA reactor ­ the most powerful TRIGA ever built. The conversion is a three-year technical cooperation project involving IAEA experts and the DoE. The USA provided $4 million to the IAEA to support the conversion. The reactor is already partially converted to low enriched uranium, and will be fully converted over the next two and a half years, with the spent HEU fuel returned to the USA.

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